SGA Makes A Last Ditch Effort to Bring Pass/Fail Option

University of Baltimore’s Student Government Association has made a last ditch effort to reverse the university back to an alternative grading model. 

Although administration, faculty, and students have deliberated on the issue since earlier this year, little progress has been made as the university has gone without the option since the summer semester.

In early November, the Student Government Association unanimously passed a resolution titled “Resolution 11, Resolution Providing Students with Academic Relief” asking for an extension of the option. At the November 25 SGA meeting, Treasurer Camilla Canner said, “The idea was that during this COVID-19 pandemic, there are a lot of extenuating circumstances that would perhaps make it difficult for a student to finish a class with a grade that would allow them to pass. The Pass/Fail grade gives an option to continue working on their degree.” This was a sentiment shared by all of the SGA, as they felt this was the best way to advocate for students.

Nevertheless, this resolution seems to have fallen on deaf ears. Many faculty members believe that this option not only hampers the ability to track student progress and accurately report information for financial aid requirements but is a blow to the reputation of the institution. 

“Data shows that a pass/fail option is unnecessary,” says interim provost Catherine Anderson. An internal report from the registrar shows similar distributions between spring 2019 and spring 2020 grades with the latter actually being higher and showing fewer withdrawals from courses. 

“Only 5 percent of undergraduate and graduate students used the no credit/credit option and distribution shows that most of those grades were Cs and Ds,” said Anderson. “About the same percent of grades were Fs in the no credit column. In other words, the alternative grading did not greatly boost academic performance.”

She adds, “Ultimately, doing what faculty felt was in the best interests of students, we did not support a Pass/Fail option for students this semester nor did any other USM schools for this fall.” 

Students like senior Zachary Romer believe that a pass/fail option is essential to his ability to graduate without having to incur the cost of a three credit semester in the spring.  To assuage his worst fears, he took 18 credits but did not anticipate the myriad of pandemic-related consequences for this decision.

“When [professors] are not giving full attention to students or even making an effort to try to help students meet their learning objectives,” said Romer. “Ultimately, there is a disengagement from students because they see the disengagement from their professors.” 

“Professors,” he says, “have not abided by their office hours,” citing personal challenges without extending the same leniency to students while also occasionally dropping “ridiculous” grading curves to push them through. 

For the past few months, SGA members have been in negotiations with members of the Faculty Senate and administration in hopes of garnering support for the legislation. Beginning in the summer, attempts to pressure the Faculty Senate to make a recommendation fell flat. Michael Kiel, Faculty Senate president, explained that the Board of Regents’ report addressing UB’s finances released earlier this year has occupied the minds of faculty members.

“I could have probably brought it up sooner and maybe I should have,” said Kiel. “Not a single faculty senator was in favor of discussing it. It gave even more reason to avoid it among other more dominating topics.” 

On December 3rd, SGA president Daniel Khoshkepazi and SGA vice president Kevin McHugh were invited to a Faculty Senate meeting in hopes of being able to speak. Kiel, however, argues that they were under the wrong impression and rather wanted them to simply have a presence in the room. 

The Faculty Senate had passed a resolution encouraging members to “be imaginative, compassionate, and kind in response to student crises,” in hopes that this would ease student minds. 

With time running out and the pass/fail option seeming less likely, some SGA members are seeking better ways to help students. On Wednesday, “Resolution 23, Asking the University of Baltimore to extend the academic probation period due to the COVID-19 pandemic as an academic relief accommodation,” passed unanimously, signaling SGA’s willingness to continue to compromise in the near future while alleviating some of the fears of risk and reputation damage that come with alternative grading. 

The Fall 2020 semester ends on December 18.

Graham Antreasian is a staff writer for The Sting. 

Letter From the Editor: Nov 2015 Issue

“ You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of.” Jim Rohn 

We are in the midst of change. We’ve long since said goodbye to summer, but the weather is finally starting to really cool down. Before we know it we’ll be trudging to class through the snow again.

Change is sometimes good, sometimes bad, but always exciting and a little scary. At The UB Post we’ve had a lot of changes since the semester began. Lawanda and I had some specific goals for The Post this year, but with an extremely rocky start to the semester, we had to make it our priority to keep the newspaper afloat. I love designing and was excited for my first semester as the Production Manager, but when our new Editor-in-Chief unexpectedly quit, out of necessity I stepped up to serve as interim Editor-in-Chief. Andrew Koch, a longtime Staff Writer and business major at UB, stepped into the role of Business Manager. We are so lucky that Lawanda Johnson, the only remaining member of the Editorial Board from last year, knew all the nooks and crannies of the inner workings of The Post. 

We have a new Managing Editor, Montéz Jennings, and we’ve found a permanent Editor-in-Chief, Kyle Fierstien, that will both start next semester. We’re extremely excited to welcome them to the team. And now that we’re back on solid ground, we’re ready to push forward.

At the end of November we are relaunching our website, ubpost.org. In addition to introducing a new website design that’ll be easy to navigate, we will be bringing new articles to you every week. We’ll still have a monthly printed issue, but this gives us the chance to bring you time sensitive information like play reviews, detailed sports updates, and breaking news.

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Sincerely,

Nicole Hovermale 

 

Download the November 2015 issue here: UB Post_Nov2015 Issue

April 2015 Issue

It’s a bittersweet moment as the Spring semester ends. Many are graduating and continuing on to their paths of success.  As some of you may know (or not know), there will be a major change to our staff for the Fall semester. Our Production Manager, Robert Summerville, Editor in Chief, Jessica Greenstein, Business Manager Keiya West and Managing Editor, Andrew Klein will all be graduating! We wish them the best of success going forward in their career. You will get to meet the new staff in the Fall. This is our last issue for the Spring semester.  Happy Spring and Summer!

Check out our April 2015 issue below. This is issue is on stands now. Pick up your copy!

UB Post April Issue

October 2014: Letter to the Editor

By Jessica Greenstein

Welcome to Fall! We are now well into our last semester of the calendar year; the weather is cooling; the leaves are changing; and boots, my favorite accessory, are making their debut. I absolutely love this time of year!

First, a couple of housekeeping matters. In our error, I mentioned in my letter last month that we would be featuring some of the runners-up from our logo contest later in the issue; however, we didn’t put them in. My sincerest apology to our runners-up. We will be featuring your entries in this month’s issue.

Also—as promised—Andrew Koch, one of our Staff Writers, sat down with President Kurt Schmoke for an exclusive interview to discuss his decision to return to Baltimore and his thoughts on the future of the University.

More changes to announce on our end! I am thrilled to announce that our team is almost complete with the hiring of our new Business Manager, Janett Munyiri. This woman is incredible with great forward-thinking ideas and will bring so much to the Post; I am so happy to welcome her to our family.

We have some new partnerships in the works, including bringing you some new columns in the months to come. Please stay tuned as we continue to stretch our legs and show you what UB students are capable of. As always, if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, I would love to hear them. This is your paper and we want to make sure that you know that. If there is anything you want to see more of, please tell us; we will always listen. Our email has changed, so please email me at editor@ubpost.org. Also, don’t forget to Like Us on Facebook, Follow Us on Twitter (@theUBPost).

Yours Truly,

Jessica Greenstein
Editor-in-Chief
Follow me on Twitter @lawofcooking